Closing time at the museum (Havana, Cuba)

The Cuban concept of time is not very exact. A guide warned that if a place posts hours of 9-5, it may not actually open until 9:30 and you shouldn’t expect it to stay open much longer after 4:30.

I experienced this firsthand at the National Museum of Fine Art. It was already afternoon and the museum “closed” at 5, but I stubbornly took the bus and didn’t get there until 3:30. That’s okay, an hour and a half, right? But the place is gigantic, with 4 long and dense wings.

At 4:40pm, the lady guards, stationed every 20m or so to make sure you don’t touch or take photos of the art, started calling “Cerrado” and shooing museum goers out. I protested that I still had 20 minutes, but the guard only pretended to check the time and waved me out of the wing. I snuck into the last wing that I had left to see, but by 4:50 was escorted out of that one too.

Outside in the hallway, all of the guards for all of the other wings were standing impatiently, waiting for the one last guest to GTFO. I walked towards the exit in a large parade with at least 30 guards. By 4:58, the place was locked up. I guess “close at 5” doesn’t mean “operating until 5,” but rather “we’d better be on our way home at 5!”

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